A Lesson From a Moth

A biologist had the good fortune to find the flask-shaped cocoon of an emperor moth. This is a rare and beautiful moth which spends some months in a peculiar bottle-shaped cocoon before it emerges as a mature moth. The cocoon has a permanent narrow opening in the neck of the flask, with a hard firm structure. The insect must force its way out through this narrow opening, thus leaving behind an intact cocoon.

After months of waiting, the biologist finally noticed the cocoon stirring. He knew that the day of delivery had come. In fascination he watched, puzzling over how the large body of the moth could possibly escape through the narrow opening. The moth's patient labor and struggle to get out took hours, until he finally lost his patience. He thought that keeping the cocoon indoors through the winter, instead of letting it be in moist soils outside probably had dried the fiber and made them less elastic so that the moth could not escape. With compassion he resolved to give the moth a helping hand. With tiny scissors he snipped the confining threads at the neck to make the exit a little easier. Immediately and with ease, out crawled the emperor moth, dragging a huge swollen body and little shriveled wings.

He waited to see the marvelous process of wing expansion, expecting to admire the exquisite spots and markings of diverse colors which the emperor moth would have in all its mature and perfect beauty. He waited in vain. The moth crawled painfully through a brief life span on his examining table, a monstrous, clumsy body which was much too large for the tiny stunted wings.

He read up on emperor moths in his literature, and learned that his experience was not unique. Emperor moths are amongst the most beautiful of insects, but also have a most difficult delivery from their cocoons. It is supposed that in Nature the moth in the cocoon continues to struggle painfully and with much pressure until its body has been streamlined in its tortured passage through the narrow neck of the cocoon. This pressuring of the body during delivery is apparently the provision of Nature for forcing the juices into the vessels of the wings so that after emerging the wings can expand in their full glory.

He pondered the wisdom of Nature in regard to the emperor moth and the misguided tenderness with which he had tried to help his precious moth. He had thought that his mission was to relieve the moth's suffering in delivery, but in his ignorance he had been the obstetrician to the delivery of a monster. He thought of his children. Had he with them also aborted their growing pains in the early years and thus hindered their full expansion? Had he restricted them sufficiently so that they might emerge eventually in all their streamlined glory? And then he thought of himself, how in years past he had been angry and bitter over the difficulties of life and the strictures forced upon him by circumstances. He thanked God now. He prayed that his further loving might not be that of weak tenderness. -Author Unknown

Back to Contents Does God Exist?, MayJun00.